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Julius B Lucks

  • Julius B Lucks
  • Dept: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Title: Assistant Professor and James C. and Rebecca Q. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow
  • Address: 214 Olin Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-3601
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Miller Fellow
University of California Berkeley, 2008-2011

Hertz Graduate Fellow
Harvard University, 2002-2007 
Ph D, Chemical Physics

Churchill Scholar
Cambridge University, 2001-2002 
M. Phil, Theoretical Chemistry

Goldwater Scholar (2000-2001)
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 1997-2001
BS Chemistry

Research Interests

The Lucks group is interested in the bottom-up design and construction of sophisticated genetic systems with predictable function. While great strides in the technical ability to synthesize and assemble DNA have been made, the ability to design a genetic system from the ground up is in its infancy. Meanwhile, there has never been a greater demand for programmable genetic engineering to solve some of the world's most pressing problems in energy, ecology and medicine.

The Lucks group uses biomolecular engineering to ask fundamental questions at two levels. By focusing on RNA-based regulators of gene expression, the first question we ask is- How can we design RNA sequences to fold into specific RNA structures that regulate gene expression as desired? Using our designed RNA regulators as tools, in combination with other regulatory mechanisms, the second question is- What are the design principles of constructing gene regulatory networks out of well-characterized building blocks that have predictable function?

Our research is highly interdisciplinary and utilizes both wet lab and computational techniques. In the wet lab, we use methods spanning from molecular cloning and flow cytometric analysis to next generation RNA sequencing techniques to measure RNA structures in a massively parallel fashion. On the computational side, we complement our experiments with modeling of gene expression networks and biophysical models of RNA folding.

Through integrating these complementary perspectives and techniques, we seek creative, cutting-edge solutions to these biomolecular engineering problems.

Teaching Interests

Application of core chemical engineering concepts (thermodynamics, kinetics, transport) to the design principles of engineering biomolecular systems.


Selected Publications

  • Chappelle, J., M. K. Takahashi, Julius Lucks. 2014. "Creating small transcription activating RNAs." Nature Chemical Biology.
  • Loughrey, D., K. Watters, A. Settle, Julius Lucks. 2014. "SHAPE-Seq 2.0: Systematic optimization and extension of high-throughput chemical probing of RNA secondary structure with next-generation sequencing." Nucleic Acids Research 42 (000): doi: 10.1093/nar/qku909.
  • Takahashi, M. K., J. Chappelle, C. A. Hayes, Z. Z. Sun, J. Kim, V. Singhal, K. J. Spring, S. Al-Khabouri, C. P. Fall, V. Nouireaux, R. M. Murray, Julius Lucks. 2014. "Rapidly characterizing the fast dynamics of RNA genetic circuitry with in vitro transcription-translation (TX-TL) reactions." ACS Synthetic Biology.
  • Takahashi, M. K., Julius Lucks. 2013. "A modular strategy for engineering orthogonal chimeric RNA transcription regulators." Nucleic Acids Research 41: 7577-7588.
  • Mortimer, Stephanie A., Cole Trapnell, Sharon Aviran, Lior Pachter, Julius Lucks. 2012. "SHAPE-Seq: High Throughput RNA Structure Analysis." Current Protocols in Chemical Biology 4: 275-297.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Young Faculty Award (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)) 2012
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) 2013
  • Office of Naval Research Young Investigator (Office of Naval Research) 2013
  • NIH Director's New Innovator Award (National Institute of Health (NIH)) 2013
  • NSF CAREER Award (National Science Foundation) 2015



  • BS (Chemistry), University of North Carolina, 2001
  • M.Phil (Theoretical Chemistry), Cambridge University, 2002
  • M. Sc. (Physics), Harvard University, 2004
  • Ph D (Chemical Physics), Harvard University, 2007